Theatre

Eurobeat

By John Nathan, September 12, 2008

Novello Theatre, London WC2

There is no accounting for taste. Not only has this trashy Eurovision song contest show become a touring hit, but, on the night I saw it, Poland, easily the best act, came fourth. Eurovision Song Contest addicts are used to the whiff of corruption and scandal, but the sheer injustice of Toomas Jerker & the Hard Pole Dancers failing to win the worst music competition on earth is an affront to democracy.

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Hedda

By John Nathan, September 4, 2008

Gate Theatre, London W11
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Writer Lucy Kirkwood has updated Ibsen's 1890 classic to now, moved it from Oslo to London and set it in a trendily dilapidated flat.

On paper this is a clever transition. Ibsen's calculating heroine is now a member of the rich, smug West Londoner set who think that they are living an inner-city life by comfortably slumming it somewhere hugely expensive off the Portobello Road.

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Review: Fragments

By John Nathan, September 4, 2008

Young Vic, London SE1

If it is laughter you are after, then hurry down to the Young Vic which is staging five short sketches by a very funny comedy writer called Samuel Beckett.

In one of the pieces, two men who each live in a bag are prodded awake by a giant pointy stick that descends from the sky. One of them is incurably grumpy; the other finds boundless joy in every menial task. It is hilarious.

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Joan Rivers: A Work In Progress By A Life In Progress

By John Nathan, September 4, 2008


Leicester Square Theatre, London WC2

You have got to have a particular brand of chutzpah to get your revenge on someone by falsely accusing them of antisemitism and then celebrating the fact by dancing the horah while singing Hava Nagilah - on stage - in front of people, some of them gentiles.

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A bitter flavour of ice-cream

By John Nathan, September 4, 2008

Three new plays over as many months will soon be looking at the Middle East conflict from very different perspectives.

In September, London's Arcola Theatre will host Welcome To Ramallah, by Sonja Linden and Adah Kay, about a Jewish woman who visits her sister's home in the city.

In October, Birmingham Rep will be the first port of call in a touring production of At the Gates of Gaza by Juliet Gilkes Romero, which looks at the territory from the point of view of West Indian soldiers fighting for the British Empire during the Great War.

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Review: The Garden

By John Nathan, August 28, 2008

Little Wormwood Scrubs, London W10

 

Rachel Grunwald had to move her production from a communal garden in a council estate to its current outdoor location because of missiles lobbed by local kids.

It is unlikely this was a comment on Helen Thompson's bleak, post-apocalyptic play, but anything as unremittingly worthy as The Garden deserves a few brickbats, if not bricks.

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Review: Her Naked Skin

By John Nathan, August 28, 2008

Olivier, National Theatre, London SE1

It is hard to believe, but the first play by a woman to reach the Olivier stage is Rebecca Lenkiewicz's latest work about suffragettes - or, as one of the Edwardian politicians in her play call them, a "lunatic fringe of lonely, frigid women who crave attention".

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Review: Eating Ice-Cream On Gaza Beach

By John Nathan, August 28, 2008

Soho Theatre, London W1

 

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Review: Piaf

By John Nathan, August 22, 2008

Donmar

When the Argentine performer Elena Roger made her West End debut in Evita, I said she had something of Edith Piaf about her. Now here she is as the great Parisian chanteuse.

For this revival of Pam Gems's biographical play, it is as if Jamie Lloyd's whirlwind production has been plugged into the mains. There are moments when the tiny Roger is flung around the stage like a rag doll as she and the play career through the highlights and lowlights of Piaf's alcohol- and drug-fuelled life.

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Review: Gigi

By John Nathan, August 22, 2008
Open Air Theatre, Regents Park

 

"Do you think I would cheat?" asks fun-loving ingenue Gigi as she plays cards with bored Parisian playboy Gaston (Thomas Borchert). "You're a woman," he answers.

"Women!" declares Gaston's uncle, Honoré. "The last invention of God after an exhausting week."

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